How 2016 Compared to Recent Elections: Coastal States Trend Democratic, Inland States Trend Republican

In races for the White House, Americans in coastal states are trending toward Democrats, while Americans in land locked states are trending toward Republicans. Taking the average of the prior four elections, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012, then comparing them to the 2016 election, a pattern emerges. This map provides an illustration of these trends.

Here’s how it works: the states of Florida, New Jersey and Nevada, moved very little, and represent the purest purple. As states become more blue, the Democrat did better than history suggests, as states become more red, the Republican did better than history suggests. Contrast is amplified ten times to make trends easier to see. A state with a ten percent swing would become pure blue or red.


California went 58.6 Democrat and 41.4 Republican on average in the prior four elections. In 2016, it went 64.2 Democrat and 35.8 Republican. The swing was Democrat +5.6. Therefore, the color for California is just over three-quarters blue to one-quarter red (or blue 184 to red 71 to be exact).

New York went 62 Democrat and 38 Republican on average in the prior four. In 2016, it went 60.8 Democrat and 39.2 Republican, with a swing of +1.2 Republican. For this, the state is slightly red even though it remains a Democratic stronghold.


There are two exceptions. First, West Virginia trends at nearly +14 Republican. For this state only, the color is ‘bottomed-out’ at pure red. Second, Utah had a very large third party vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson that took away from Republican Donald Trump. Because of this anomaly, the two candidates were added together and counted as Republicans. In other states, third parties were ignored and the two major candidates were considered only in ratio to each other, always totaling 100 percent.


States trending most blue are California +5.6, Hawaii +5.2, Alaska +4.6, Washington +3.9, and Texas +3.8. States trending most red are West Virginia +13.8, North Dakota +8.9, Iowa +7.1, South Dakota +7.0, and Tennessee +6.7. Some of these states are solidifying support, others are trending toward the other side.


In the traditional Republican south on the coast, Texas (3.8), Georgia (2.8), and North Carolina (1.4) trend toward Democrats, while Florida (0.1) hangs right in the middle since the 2000 election was decided there. Holding firm and gaining for Republicans are Louisiana (2.9), Mississippi (1.3), Alabama (3.5), and South Carolina (1.6).


Looking at the map, there is a curved region from Texas to Virginia where some states are trending blue, but right above that, interior southern states are trending solidly red: Iowa (7.1), Missouri (6.0), Arkansas (6.4), Tennessee (6.7), Kentucky, and of course West Virginia (13.8).


The “blue wall” states are traditional manufacturing states where Democrats usually won elections in the recent past. These states have been described also as “rust belt” states. Five of these states trended slightly Republican in 2016 — and this is where most pundits say the slim election victory was won. Here are the trends: Minnesota (+2.4 Republican), Wisconsin (4.4), Michigan (4.7), Indiana (4.2), Ohio (4.2), Pennsylvania (3.4), and Illinois (+0.5 Democrat) which stands out against the trend because it contains the big city of Chicago.


This traditional very red area remains so, gaining percentages in every state: Oklahoma (4.1), Kansas (0.9), Nebraska (1.7), South Dakota (7.0), North Dakota (8.9), Montana (3.7), and Wyoming (5.5).


Five mountain states are trending slightly blue: Idaho (0.7), Utah (1.2), Colorado (1.3), Arizona (1.8), and New Mexico (1.3). Idaho and Utah remain solidly red while the other three may be in play. Nevada (+0.3 Republican), which is already a swing state, trends slightly red.


As per the overall trends of coastal and border states trending blue and interior states trending red, the west coast fits perfectly. California is the bluest trending state, gaining 5.6 percent on top of a large majority. Washington (3.9), Oregon (1.8) and Hawaii (5.2) all won by Democrats trend more blue. Alaska (4.6) is also trending blue, but remains 58 percent Republican.


The rest of the states are in the northeast and on the east coast. All went significantly Democratic, except New Hampshire and Maine were very close.

  • Maine gained 4.3 Republican and ended 51.6 percent Democrat, but Maine is the only state that splits its electors.
  • Maryland gained 3.4 Democrat and ended 63.5 percent Democrat.
  • Vermont gained 1.8 Democrat and ended 64.9 percent Democrat.
  • Massachusetts gained 1.2 Democrat and ended 64.2 percent Democrat.
  • New Jersey gained 0.2 Republican and ended 56.7 percent Democrat.
  • New Hampshire gained 1.4 Democrat and ended 50.5 percent Democrat.
  • Rhode Island gained 5.6 Republican and ended 57.9 percent Democrat.
  • Connecticut gained 2.4 Republican and ended 56.3 percent Democrat.
  • New York gained 1.2 Republican and ended 60.8 percent Democrat.
  • Delaware gained 2.1 Republican and ended 55.8 percent Democrat.